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Cowardice Allows Alberta To Slide In School Scores

April 16, 2014 by Tunya

History Of Alberta Education Illustrates A Slide To Cowardice

[This post is in response to Michael Zwaagstra column in Calgary Herald ]

Alberta education, notably the choice, charter and school-based management model, has been written up in Economics textbooks. Noted is that competition not only enabled innovation but also resulted in measurable positive results for the whole system — all schools demonstrated improved scores.

For 4 decades Alberta was noted for highest scores in Canada as well as in international reports. Serious slippage in ratings, however, was seen in the last round of international reports.

Internationally, teacher unions are renowned for solidarity with each other and with left wing politics — equality, fraternity, but NOT liberty. I had read that ATA (Alberta Teachers’ Assoc) had been sponsoring, or co-sponsoring, gurus in the last 5 years — change-agents, turnaround consultants, the promoter of the Finnish style of education.  This did not bode well for high-achieving Alberta Ed.

Was the tall poppy to be cut down to size?

There was the story that Alison Redford was elected to premiership because of an influx of teacher voters to her campaign.  It was said she had made 3 promises — to immediately restore $107 M to education funds (done), scrap standardized testing in Gr 3 & 6 (done), and repeal parental veto to withdraw their children from controversial lessons (not done — opposed by parents).

Well, the tall poppy has been cut down.  The left campaign has been successful.  Alberta is now more equal than ever. 

But, parents and some education supporters are rising up to restore some sense to at least the straightforward task of teaching Mathematics. 

But, we are seeing, Math is no longer clear-cut and up-front.  There are hidden agendas.  A textbook in the field is titled:  “Teaching Mathematics for Social Justice”.  Perhaps this is the personal constructivist preference the Minister of Education is committed to instead of research evidence and the informed preferences of thousands of parents.  Seems like his stance is simple subservience to the establishment and their vested interests.

Accomplices and cowards, it seems, are running the show.  This episode in Alberta history fully illustrates that while there are clear political masters they are still slaves to a philosophy that is ineffective, dysfunctional and counterproductive.

Wikipedia reporting is ominous: “Discovery learning, personalized learning and reform mathematics are being implemented by the education ministry, accompanied by much controversy.”

Who will break away and tell us how this shaping of the Discovery Math agenda happened? Then maybe commonsense can be prevailed upon to give parents at least a choice in the matter.

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